The 2020 MLB Draft was unlike any other, sliced to five rounds by the COVID-19 pandemic. This, conveniently, came at the same time as the league's attempt to pare down the minors. Huh. You don't say.
The draft's length also meant that, in the wake of the five-round frenzy, plenty of top-tier talent was available to be signed, regardless of draft order. That gave the Yankees, and any other MLB team with deep pockets, the chance to attack sixth-through-tenth-round picks with the same ferocity they'd usually reserve for the international market.
The crown jewel of the Yankees' efforts that summer was outfielder Elijah Dunham, who's power/speed combination has led him to Triple-A, where the 24-year-old out of Indiana is finding his footing after a tough start (.247/.373/.749 OPS).
But perhaps Aaron Palensky, the other college outfielder they signed that season, is tired of being lost in the shuffle.
Palensky, also 24 years old, but two levels below at High-A Hudson Valley, has begun 2023 aflame, hitting over .400 with a 1.457 OPS on the campaign, thanks in large part to his recent homer streak.
Yankees minor-league outfielder Aaron Palensky is hitting .400
Palensky began his professional career with the Yankees at Double-A Somerset, but was demoted to begin the 2022 season after failing to take to that aggressive trajectory. He performed well in 77 games last season, posting an .844 OPS that likely merited promotion, but didn't receive it.
Now, Palensky's far harder to ignore, and seems up the task of being elevated to the next level.
His scorching offensive streak, mixed with his strong and accurate arm in left field, should have caught the Yankees' attention (and yes, we did say left field).
Palensky has ways to go before he's considered for a left field role in the Bronx, and Double-A Somerset's outfield has to get unclogged a bit before he's sent there (Jasson Dominguez/Everson Pereira/Brandon Lockridge).
After becoming draft-eligible at the strangest possible time and nearly getting lost in the Yankees' shuffle, though, Palensky has made sure his numbers are impossible to gloss over. Yes, even with Spencer Jones by his side.